VISA Freestyle International including “behind the scenes…”

Since the beginning of the millennium, Deer Valley Resort has embraced freestyle skiing by hosting Freestyle World Cups, Olympics and World Championship events. This year was no exception and while the Utah resort bested itself once again, the top international freestyle athletes met at what is, without much debate, their favorite venue in the word.

With its mogul and aerial events, freestyle is one of the very few ski competitions that can be seen and enjoyed by the public from top to bottom, without solely relying upon a giant TV screen. Deer Valley’s venue is quite unique in the way it is shaped and configured and is designed to accommodate close to 7,000 cheering spectators. A number in that vicinity could have been counted on both the Friday and Saturday evenings that, by far, attracted the largest crowds.

I’m a bit partial to the mogul competition which is a true test in edge-to-edge quickness, rolling bumps that come at the competitors like a monster conveyor belt eager to swallow them, where there’s a need for electric knee-action interspersed with a couple of high powered jumps where athleticism, balance, sporting creativity and a lot of good luck combine to offering a breathtaking show. As a single event, moguls is plenty entertaining but in its dual format, the whole spectacle truly comes to life, builds up additional pressure, intensifies the excitement and let the athletes’ raw talent explode in full view of a cheering public.

The aerial competition on the other hand is like a high-speed elevator lift that boosts a skier high into the air, which materializes into seemingly unending airtime that can be used to execute all kinds of twisting and rotating maneuvers while the flight lasts and until it becomes time to land the skis securely and stylishly on a steep and short reception area. Each jump is another opportunity for the athlete to deeply concentrate; balance apprehension versus desire to excel and almost go for broke, hoping to better the last best jump!

Oh yes, while the world’s elite was delivering their perfect show, and the adults were riveted on their awesome performance, another “unofficial world cup” was being held just below the tent and the television house, right on the edge of the immense spectators platform, where the slope is steep. The 5 to 10 years old who are between 3 and 5 feet tall and might have been a bit too small to see everything World Cup, decided to hold their own snow-ball throwing contest and testing the low friction of their ski suits on Deer Valley’s famous great snow, and thinking they were champions in their own right!

Each evening has been marked with big crowds, loud cheers, and pressurized atmosphere with spectators and athletes in communion for pushing the envelope and chasing excellence. A wonderful way for our entire community of visitors, residents and visiting athletes from the world over to bond over a sport we all love!

If you missed the live action these three nights, these World Cup events hosted by Deer Valley Resort will be televised on NBC on February 11, 2012 at 1 pm. EST and on Versus February 11 and 18, 2012.

Here’s the Versus broadcasting Schedule (all times EST):

Freestyle Moguls 2/11/2012 2 pm.

Freestyle Aerials 2/11/2012 3 pm.

Freestyle Dual Moguls 2/18/2012 2:30 pm.

Mother-Son Night at World Cup

World Cup Fever hit hard in my house.

So did the regular fever, which turned out to be strep—but it only derailed our mad spectating skills for one night. More on that in a minute.

No sooner had Sundance ended, than my family was plotting out our strategy to be spectators at the VISA Freestyle International . We decided that the moguls on Thursday would be my mother-son night with Lance—in part to compensate for my all-day birthday ski date with Seth earlier in the week, while Lance was busy being a third grader. Said third-grader wasted no time telling his teacher that he’d be out late Thursday at the World Cup. Thankfully, Park City teachers get it—Lance said Ms. Thompson was really excited for him.

The buildup was immense—so when we got home from karate and I discovered that little brother had a fever, I saw Lance try to mask his disappointment at the prospect of missing out on our evening. Dad, of course, saw no reason for us to change our plans—all Seth needed was one parent in the house to take care of him. Mom and brother? Redundant.

So, we bundled up and off we went. I can safely say there was nothing the kid did not enjoy about the World Cup—from the walk through the parking lot to the chairlift ride with no skis, to the hike up the bottom of Little Stick. Seeing all the kids (and some adults) sliding on their bottoms off the runout on the bottom of Solid Muldoon was a hoot, too. And then…the holy grail:  We were lucky enough to be invited to the VIP Tent, so my soup-loving boy got to enjoy a second dinner of Tomato Basil Soup and unlimited cookies.

And this kid—he may be but a yellow belt in karate, but he’s got a black-belt in events. “Mom, it’s warm in the tent, and we’re bundled up—let’s take our soup outside and eat where it’s cooler,” he said, wisely. “Plus, we won’t miss a minute of competition!”

And, of course, the competition was amazing.

In the process, I think I found the phrase that will make my kids roll their eyes in that “Mom, you’re such a dork, you always say that!” way that teenagers acquire. It is…

“You know, if you were growing up in New York City, you would not get to do this!”

Admittedly, it’s kind of a preemptive strike against the kind of groaning I have anticipated as soon as my kids figure out that my old life as an Entertainment Editor in New York City involved premiere tickets to just about every major studio release, house seats to popular Broadway shows, and concert tickets with backstage access at lots and lots and lots of teenybopper concerts. I once said to Ski Dad that I wondered if, for all the effort we put into moving to Utah and creating a certain kind of life here, if our kids would “reward” us by lusting after city life, as a sort of karmic joke. (I was the originator of that particular bit—growing up in Vermont, I pined, pined I tell you, for life in the big city. Three cities and twelve years later, I was done.)

So, yes, I went ahead and made that statement, aloud, to Lance as we got ready to watch the women’s and men’s moguls’ competition on Thursday night. Shameless.

But something cool happened. Lance got the same look of awe on his face watching the competition as he got when I took him to see American Idol Live on Tour, or the first time he watched Star Wars. He was both completely absorbed in being entertained, and impressed with what it took to make this entertainment happen. And you know what? Even though mom’s job still have the kind of perks that get us into VIP tents, that wasn’t the thing that impressed him about the experience:

“Mom, look how good they are,” he said. “I’m thinking about how hard they all worked to get here. It’s a lot of work, isn’t it, Mom?”

For once, I just shut my mouth and let the experience speak for itself.

Thanks, Lance.

Olypmic (Anniversary) Fever!

I won’t reveal what Ski Dad and I found when we reached into the pockets of our volunteer jackets, last worn when we helped out with the 2002 Olympic Winter Games…10 years ago. But I will tell you what we found when we put them on–-our Olympic Spirit. Yep, we geeked out, geared up, and got the kids psyched to check out the Olympic celebration on Main Street, before the Visa FIS Freestyle International opening night concert.

And I must have given off a very spirited vibe, because a very nice lady and her daughter asked for my autograph. Unwittingly, I gave them the impression that I was an athlete. Which cracked up Ski Dad to no end.

There were, however, plenty of athlete sightings—and lots of other former volunteers who were similarly geeked-out. Prizes were conferred upon the most spirited folks in the audience. And I was thrilled when my friend Stacey, a terrific teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary, won two lift tickets to Deer Valley for her head-to-toe Olympic ensemble. Heck, her purse had an American Flag on it, and she wore a cowbell—if she didn’t win, it would have been a crime. (And how psyched am I, Stacey, that we can get out and make some turns together?).

Another highlight, for me, was running into my friend, Missy—one of the first people I met when I moved to Utah, who worked for SLOC. My younger son knows her as “Adam’s mom,” and I think we both felt the time warp, realizing that the Games were practically a lifetime ago (B.K.E…Before the Kiddie Era…for both of us).

And in spite of the fact that they weren’t born when the Salt Lake games happened, our kids seemed to get a kick out of the whole scene—and given the fact that the festivities went on well past bedtime, I was impressed with their staying power. They even rallied for a quick stop at our favorite sushi place on Main Street. As if the snow that began to dump on us wasn’t gift enough!

Put a few moguls into your ski life

As I do every year, I just attended the Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley to get a boost of skiing inspiration early in the season. This is a first-class event that can only be seen in Deer Valley and impeccably showcases the best freestyle skiing has to over. The venue, the preparation and the execution of the event are seamless, charged with energy and designed to keep you on your feet. While I’m envious of the aerialists, I’ve never been able to land well enough to emulate them; I just watch them in awe along with the big crowds that come to cheer them. The mogul competition however, is something I can relate to a lot more, as I keep on encountering bumps in my daily skiing life.

Sure, we all love morning corduroy, the “rice krispies” feeling it generates under our feet and we can use groomed runs now and again for resting a bit, concentrating on our technique, looking perfect on skis or just enjoying the sheer joy of the sport. Yet, many skiers can’t just live off smooth, seamless
snow; there’s always a point when it’s time to change “textures” and evolve towards some more exciting relief and pick up new skills.  That’s right, skiing is made up of a variation of textures that begin with Deer Valley’s trademark corduroy, a few “waves” on the slope and culminate with World Cup moguls as seen on Big Stick.

But why should a satisfied skier even contemplate leaving the civilized, groomed universe for venturing into a world of “ups and downs?” It must have to do with our craving for change; like variety is spice of life, moguls are skiing’s salt and pepper. They build excitement, unpredictability
and, over time, turn every one of us into much better skiers. That’s right, the lowly little bump can teach us important things having to do with triggering our turns, enhancing our balance, sharpening our reactions and giving us the kind of unwavering style we all aspire to.

Without taking the “ski class room” inside, and boring you with theory, let me just remind you that skis love to pivot when they’re sitting on some convex spot, and what’s more convex than the top of a mogul? There, they can turn freely, without having their tips or tails hitting anything or requiring significant torque. That for sure is the “lazy way to making turns!”  Then the skis take the plunge into the steep portion of the mogul. This only requires a sudden act of faith and a positive acceptance on your part to espouse their motion, enjoy the slight acceleration that follows, stay in control, and very soon you’re at the bottom of the pitch where speed becomes controllable again. That’s right, a bump is the microcosm of the larger hill, made of successions of flat and steep portions that alternatively speed you up and slow you down. You just need some professional guidance to experience the feeling and become an adept.

From that point, we simply need to increase the difficulty level. Skiing bumps enhances your work out, activates all of your joints and on a cold winter day, will keep you so warm that cold feet and frozen fingers never are part of the price to pay to enjoy a day on the slopes. That’s right, moguls are a perfect warming up exercise that puts every element of your “suspension system” to work and bring a nice rhythm to the experience. If perfect grooming is the great equalizer, what will soon separate the budding skier from the better one is practicing the bumps. It’s a place where there’s no room for cheating, yet nothing is that complicated because you can pretty much adjust the speed, the grade of the slope and the size of the moguls to your current ability level. Of course, the beauty of great mogul skiing is fluidity; the thousands of spectators attending the Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley could see that raw quality in action amongst the top contestants.
“Fluidity” is an aspect of skiing bumps we can all focus on, and then match with the level of difficulty we choose; the main objective being to always appear perfectly smooth. Beyond that, if we really want to keep on improving, we just need to dial-up any one or all of the components we just reviewed! Remember that viewed from a distance, everything is only a matter of texture; from corduroy to camel-backs, there’s always a mogul sized right for you. Simply decide today about making room for a few more moguls in your skiing life and you’ll suddenly get a spicier and more exciting experience!

World Cup Recap

Thanks to everyone who made it out the World Cup events over the past weekend!  If you missed out on all the action, check out the photos below or catch it on TV during the following times:

NBC
Saturday, January 23, 1:30 p.m. EST (1.5 hours)

Versus
Sunday, January 24, 5 p.m. EST (Aerials - 1 hour)
Sunday, January 31, 4 p.m. EST (Moguls - 1 hour)
Sunday, January 31, 5 m EST (Moguls – 1 hour)

Cars arriving at Deer Valley for the evening events

Record Crowds!

Thursday Night's Free concert on Main Street

The Bravery Performed

January Events

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season starting to wrap up I am looking forward to the year a head.  January is going to be another busy month at the resort with the Freestyle World Cup, Freestyle Olympic Team Announcement and Sundance all taking place. 

Deer Valley Resort’s FIS Freestyle World Cup is coming up January 14 – 16, 2010.  Three days of competition and festivities will begin with the first of two mogul competitions taking place on Deer Valley’s Champion ski run on Thursday, January 14, 2010, beginning at 1:15 p.m. Thursday evening, there will be an evening celebration on Park City’s historic Main Street (near the Town Lift) from 7 – 9 p.m. featuring The Bravery and a fireworks display. The aerial competition will take place on Friday, January 15 under the lights on Deer Valley’s White Owl ski run, beginning at 8 p.m. The second mogul competition will take place Saturday night under the lights on Champion and will also begin at 8 p.m. As always, Deer Valley will host fireworks after its evening events on Friday and Saturday. General admission to all events is free. 

062 World Cup

  Official naming of the 2010 Freestyle Olympic Team will be announced at Deer Valley Resort Tuesday, January 26, at noon MST. Deer Valley, site of the 2002 freestyle and alpine Olympic venues, will host the announcement and send members off to Vancouver, Canada in “Deer Valley style” to represent the United States and bring home Olympic hardware. While freestyle athletes have been steadily working on qualifying for the 2010 Olympics, the selection period will close Sunday, January 24 and the official members are to be announced with several on-site for the official presentation, as well as greet and sign autographs for Deer Valley guests.

 Last but not least we have the Sundance Film Festival!  Sundance is the last two weeks of January and is a great time to hit the slopes.  This year Deer Valley is offering a package during the festival so if you have not made your reservations check out this deal…. Exceptional Value Package: Save 25% on select lodging and Deer Valley Resort lift tickets at a wide range of accommodations! Package includes lodging and daily lift tickets for each adult in your party. Offer is valid January 3 to 14, 2010; January 17 to February 9, 2010; March 22 to April 12, 2010. Children’s two-day or longer lift tickets also available for purchase at a discount. Please ask one of our Vacation Planners for details.

 So there is no excuse for us not to see you in January!